Speaking up for our health and pension plans

Volume 124, No. 4April, 2024

Martha Hyde

In early March, I attended the annual conference of the National Coordinating Committee of Multiemployer Plans (NCCMP), an almost 50-year-old entity that serves as the sole lobbyist on behalf of Taft-Hartley multiemployer benefit plans like the Local 802 Musicians’ Health Fund (MHF) and the American Federation of Musicians Employers’ Pension Fund (AFM-EPF).

I serve on the NCCMP Steering Committee. Employer trustee Chris Brockmeyer serves on the Executive Board of the NCCMP and together we are trying to increase the influence of entertainment union funds in a group that has historically been dominated by the building trades.

On the pension side of things, the main issue is the ongoing journey funds are taking as they apply for the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) financial relief. The new death audit requirements by the PBGC have held up the applications of a number of funds including the AFM-EPF. The AFM-EPF resubmitted its application on March 15 after meeting the new requirements. (Here’s the e-mail that Local 802 sent its members in mid-March.)

On the health side, the biggest issue is how funds can comply with the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) of 2008. This law requires plans that cover mental health services to cover them in a way that is equal to medical and surgical services. Many funds struggle with so-called Non-quantifiable Treatment Limitations (NQTLs). This term refers to any treatment limitation that does not have a dollar figure attached to it. Often it comes down to network limitations — lack of mental health or addiction providers when compared to medical or surgical providers.

The problem is that while there is a strong commitment to mental health parity, many funds like the MHF have no control over the networks because they are administered by a third party like Aetna or Anthem. (The MHF is now in the Anthem network).

The role of the Steering Committee is to help formulate official comments to whichever government agency is writing regulations (in the case of the MHPAEA) or to members of Congress of legislation is pending. Stay tuned and contact me if you have any questions about this.

Martha Hyde is a trustee of both the Local 802 Musicians’ Health Fund as well as the AFM Pension Fund (AFM-EPF).